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Sunset Junction to Celebrate 30th Anniversary with 5 Stages of Music this Weekend

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Bodies of Water at the 2008 festival (see more photos here) | Photo by Koga/LAist

30 years ago former Beverly Hills hairdresser Michael McKinley did something different, something police said wouldn't work. He said he would produce a festival to ease tensions between the gay community and latino gangs with rival gangmembers working as security. What happened was that some 250,000 people came out to the Sunset Junction Street Festival in Silver Lake. No incidents were reported.

That's according to a rarely seen 2003 documentary on the festival by Peter Jones, who is mostly known for executive producing A&E "Biography." Jones followed the planning of the 2001 festival, revealing inklings of what years later turned into a major controversy: forcing people to pay to a festival the city said should be free with request for donations. That, combined with other complaints from neighbors and businesses, came to a head a couple years ago with the city threatening to not grant permits for the festival unless solutions were brought to the table. Things worked out , the festival went on successfully and a second street festival, the Silver Lake Jubilee, was beget by community members.

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What else the documentary showed is the less talked about aspect of the festival: what the money raised goes toward. As Jones put it, it's for McKinley's "self-styed program for youths at risk." Those include a farmers market, soccer programs and tsunami cafe, which offers jobs and programs to at-risk youth. McKinley said his approach is to not preach and tell people not to be in a gang, but to make it enticing not join one. Most interestingly enough, issues discussed in the film about children of illegal immigrants taken over the border is something still being debated today with the DREAM Act.

This year the two-day, five-stage Sunset Junction Street Festival features a handful top name bands, including Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Ghostland Observatory, Big Daddy Kane, Fishbone and Bad Brains.

For a more local taste, there's a lot to choose from, like the Silver Lake Chorus, Moses Campbell, Sweaters, Andy Clockwise, Pollyn, Eastern Conference Champions, Chief, Everest, Dawes, Saint Motel, Chris Pierce, Leslie and the Badgers, Red Cortez, The Deadly Syndrome and Crystal Antlers, to name a bunch.

Of course, there's a lot more going on to with DJs, food and vendors.

Tickets are $15 online and $20 at the gate for each day. 12 and under, and 65 and older can enter for free. The festival, accessible by a short walk from the Sunset and Vermont or Santa Monica and Vermont Metro Red Line Stations, is on Sunset Boulevard between Fountain and Edgecliffe and on Santa Monica between Sanborn and Hoover.